Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 25, 2021
Cowboys, Dinos give softball fans a thrill

I know it had probably only been a year since the last time I watched a high school softball game in person, but everything that’s gone on over the past 12 months made it seem even longer than that.

Thus, I was thrilled to see Wednesday’s Grantsville-Carbon matchup on the schedule — the perfect opportunity to get back out to the field to watch a game. And the Cowboys and Dinos certainly didn’t disappoint.

Was it perfect? Judging by the early-season errors in the field, not quite. The weather also got a little cold there toward the end. But what unfolded on Wednesday in Grantsville was a battle between two state-championship hopefuls, hoping to establish themselves among the teams to beat when the Class 3A title is handed out in a couple months.

There’s no reason to believe that the Cowboys and Dinos won’t both be right there at the end. Credit where credit is due: Carbon pitcher Haven Byerly is the real deal. She struck out 17 Cowboys in eight innings, and was rolling through the first part of the game. Her Grantsville counterpart, August Cowan, might not have put up flashy numbers, but she was every bit as effective, keeping the Dinos from blowing the game open early and giving the Cowboys a chance to rally.

And, rally they did. It was reminiscent of Grantsville’s three recent state championship teams — squads that had the same never-say-die attitude. And while this is certainly a different group from the one that won the state championship two years ago, it has the same mentality. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cowboys came back to tie the game — and, if not for an incredible catch at the fence by Carbon’s Sami Oman off a deep drive by Grantsville’s Addison Butler, they might have ended up winning.

Carbon eventually ended up claiming a 4-3 win in the international tiebreaker after Grantsville left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning — not the result the Cowboys were hoping for after seizing the momentum with that sixth-inning rally. Still, while Grantsville currently sits at 2-3 overall, Wednesday’s game against a 7-1 Carbon squad shows that the Cowboys are still among the elite teams in Class 3A — or, at least, they have that kind of potential.

To me, the game was a reminder of what makes softball such an entertaining sport to watch at its highest levels. At its best, the game can be like a chess match, with the first few innings consisting of teams trying to pick out each others’ weaknesses. Once those weaknesses are exposed, the good teams exploit them. That’s how Carbon took a 3-0 lead, and how Grantsville came back to tie the game — each team saw something and took advantage. 

Then, you have the tension of the international tiebreaker, with each team starting the eighth inning with a runner on second base. Both teams loaded the bases in the eighth. Carbon scraped together a run, while Grantsville’s last-ditch effort came on a line drive to right field by Madelyn Lee that just happened to go right to a Carbon outfielder. It was a tough break for the Cowboys, but that’s the way it goes.

I’m willing to bet that if the Dinos and Cowboys played a best-of-seven series, it would go the full seven games. That’s how close the two teams appear to be. 

And if games like that are what the rest of the softball season has in store, sign me up.

Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. As much as he enjoys watching softball, he’ll be even happier once the weather warms up. Email him at dvaughan@tooeletranscript.com.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>